The Vikingbank and Sea Bear come in to port together

The Vikingbank had been waiting at anchor for several days and came into port on Labor Day, September 7, 2015. This is her 6th trip to the Twin Ports since she was built in 2012. She was just here on June 14th this summer when she loaded beet pulp pellets; she will load the same cargo on this trip, taking it to Ireland where it will be used as animal feed.
In all ports in the world, a visiting ship is required to have a local pilot on board who knows the harbor and its many variations. The Sea Bear, the local pilot boat,  took a pilot out to the Vikingbank so she could come in to port. Here they both are returning to port.

Sister ships pass in the afternoon

The Victoriaborg departed Duluth at 2:50 on the afternoon of November 15, 2013 after loading a cargo of grain at Gavilon (formerly Peavey). As she went through the Duluth ship canal, you can see her sister ship, the Virginiaborg, at anchor waiting to come in to load beet pulp pellets at the General Mills dock in Duluth. Both ships are 433 feet long; the Virginiaborg has been here 29 times since she was built in 2000; the Victoriaborg came 23 times since she was built a year later. Between them, they have brought in lumber and steel coils. They mostly loaded beet pulp pellets on their trips here, but they have also loaded bentonite, and other grains. On many trips, they came in empty. In the picture above, especially in the larger version seen by clicking on the picture, you will see the pilot boat Sea Bear just approaching the stern of the Virginiaborg. Foreign flagged vessels in the Great Lakes must have a pilot aboard who knows the many lakes, rivers, docks, bridges etc. that a ship will encounter. In this case, since the Virginiaborg had just arrived at anchor, the pilot boat was out to get the pilot and bring him into port. When the Virginiaborg is ready to come in, the pilot boat will take a pilot, not necessarily the same one, out to the ship for the trip into port.

Go out to meet Blacky

20110419_2015The ship’s name might have been Blacky but my knuckles were white. Luckily all I had to do was keep out of the water (even when I was looking up at it) and take pictures. I had two choices, go out on the deck of the Sea Bear, take pictures and fall in the water, or sit inside and hold on. Guess which I took.
All foreign flagged vessels that come to Duluth are required to have a pilot on board while the ship is in US or Canadian waters. One of Captain Ed Montgomery’s many jobs is transferring the pilot out to or in from the anchorage in his pilot boat, Sea Bear, the mainstay of his company, Sea Service, LLC. Today (April 19, 2011), the Cyprus flagged Blacky arrived off the Duluth piers. Often, a ship will drop anchor out there and Captain Montgomery will take the Sea Bear out to pick up the pilot so he can spend some time at home rather than staying on the ship until it came in (in this case at least a couple days from now). I took the above picture from inside the cabin of the Sea Bear. That’s Captain Dann Edholm’s steady hand on the wheel. He did a great job handling the boat in very heavy seas.
The first task all foreign flagged vessels have when they arrive in port is to meet, on the ship, with a variety of local officials including the ship’s agent, a local stevedore and customs officials. That meeting is usually held while the ship is at anchor but with Lake Superior kicking up a heavy current, the Blacky came into the inner harbor for that meeting, after which the boat went back out to the anchorage to await the next trip in when she will load grain.
The pilot, in this case Captain Shawn McKenzie, got on at the Soo and brought the ship into the harbor today. Since a pilot has to be on board whenever the ship is under way, he stayed on when the ship went back out to the anchorage.
I left my warm dry office and went out to take some pictures of the Blacky and found the Sea Bear lurking about waiting for the bigger ship to pass under the bridge on the way to the anchorage. Captain Montgomery asked if I wanted to go out to the Blacky with them, and of course, I said yes, totally forgetting that the Blacky came into the harbor because of the heavy seas. I don’t get sea sick, even in very heavy seas; I just get scared.
Usually, the rope ladder (above) is used , but with heavy seas, the gangway was lowered.
And he did a good job bringing Sea Bear next to the Blacky so McKenzie could climb down and ‘jump’ into the pilot boat. His luggage came first; I even helped with that job. Then he took the ‘elevator’ down from the Blacky to the Sea Bear.
20110419_2089We returned and they dropped me off just beyond the bridge. Montgomery helped me off the boat; that’s him standing on the bow of the Sea Bear (below) as the boat drove off into the sunset and I ran inside and back to my safe warm office.